It is time we begin to tell ourselves the truth about our situation. For some decades, our leaders have told us lies about the state of our country. Every time we have a national celebration and our leaders have opportunity to speak to us, all we hear is that we should be grateful to God that our country is still one united country. You examine the statement and wonder whether that is a statement of progress, consolation or something else. When you hear such statements, you begin to wonder if our country was put together not to last for a very long time, but to disintegrate after a very short while. There is this sense or picture that comes to the mind that few committed people are somewhere invisible to the rest of the population, holding some invisible pillars, so that the country does not fall and disintegrate into smaller units.
The statement is illogical just as it is distractive. It is illogical because when countries are properly founded the expectation would be that it grows and becomes a nation state. The growth process would not be devoid of problems and controversies that will naturally follow the process of making a nation, there would be problems and such problems would be seen as challenges of nation building and not as some of us do, seeing challenges as threats to national unity. When a section of the elite ruling class begins to be obsessed about unity all the time and even begin to insist that a country’s unity is non-negotiable, that morbid fear in itself is a clear indication that the country’s foundation is not only faulty but it is to such an extent that it can throw up variables with the potential of reconfiguring whatever entity may be in question. The elite, who shout unity, unity and hold it up as the ultimate solution, know that something is fundamentally wrong, but they are unable to offer the much needed solutions because their section of the society benefits from the chaos arising from a faulty foundation.
Recently, a section of our population led the rest of us to review the civil war 50 years after. Many in the critical circle were glad to see that happen. You don’t build a successful nation without history, after all it has been said that those who forget their past would certainly not know where the rain began to beat them. A people without history are dead. Our elite in the bid to hide our faulty foundation removed history from the school curriculum. The media runs without ideology, so no attention at all is paid to history. In a recent interview they asked a young graduate, ‘Do you know Nnamdi Azikiwe?’ And his answer was: “I hear the name but I don’t know much about him.” When a society has a new generation that doesn’t know about themselves, this in itself is a bigger calamity. It is within this context that some Nigerians were happy seeing our communication organs reviewing the civil war 50 years after it ended and asking relevant questions like if post war leaders have been able to take care of the matters that led to the civil war. It was a good one and from that outing many of us picked out good points, one of which is that we have not been able to take the lessons of the civil war because the principal actors, especially those alive have refused to change and also to tell the people the truth.
Anyone that listened to our two former military heads of state, Yakubu Gowon and Gen Ibrahim Babangida, would end the session being more angry and hateful about the country. Those guys are cocky and very overbearing, very unkind to many sections of Nigeria. Both would talk about unity and why they would give their lives to keep Nigeria one, but they never define the kind of unity they talk about and tell us the factors they feel can promote the kind of unity they talk about; yet they are ready to die or use everything to ensure the unity of the country.
Last week we had Imo and arithmetic of injustice. Some of us can bet that what happened in Imo can never be contemplated for any core northern state. Never! It happened in Imo and everybody is keeping quiet. The reason is simple we have a nation of unequal people, that is the truth. Before the arithmetic of injustice, one issue was on the front burner, showing everyone the faulty foundation they have laid for us. It was the case of one Nigerian by the name Goodnews Thomas. Miss Thomas is a young female Nigerian from Niger State. Her offense was being Nigerian and having the courage to take her rights; she sat for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams in 2019. She wanted to read medicine at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Kaduna State.
In our country where adults mouthing unity have placed all manner of obstacles against the young generation, quota system, allocation, federal character, catchment area and just left a little gap for merit. Young Thomas was ready to beat the odds and find herself a place in this enclave called Nigeria. She studied hard, passed her school certificate in flying colours and passed both JAMB and post-JAMB exams also in flying colours. Her scores were such she would make any merit list anywhere in the world but in Nigeria of today it is a case of the best being the last and that was the fate of Miss Thomas. An invisible element from Ahmadu Bello University, gave her a call to say even though she scored high she would not be taken for medicine, that she should opt for Anatomy. The adolescent girl fell for the bait and told the evil one to change the course to Anatomy. It took a good Samaritan to uncover the fraud and to seek remedy through social media.
Ahmadu Bello University gave two conflicting answers; she changed her course otherwise she was qualified to read medicine. The other was two chances are allocated to states for medicine and Thomas could not make it because she was third from her state. JAMB said as far as they were concerned she was on the merit list. The university did not tell us about the evil caller. This development shows why we can’t have a united Nigeria for now, we all can imagine what is in the mind of this young girl if at this young age she can go through such experience, letting her know that excellence and hard work have no reward. Many young people are in the class of Goodnews Thomas. It is just that providence found a way to throw up this particular case.
JAMB should not exist if we are serious about building a stable united Nigeria. It is against excellence and the principle of university autonomy. In the 70s and early 80s universities individually admitted their students. You don’t raise a section that is down by raising policies that stop others, you kill the society. You keep the health of a society and promote its growth using affirmative action such as loans, scholarships, allowances and building of more educational institutions. We have a bad foundation and it is hurting us.